Stephen Porzio gets goosebumps watching Garret Walsh’s mystery.
Ingenuity goes a long away in a short and The Observer Effect has plenty to spare. It begins conventionally. A news report informs the viewer that there has been a wave of killings. We see a mysterious, threatening-looking man (Patrick O’Brien) stalk a woman (Vanessa Emme), someone who seems to be entering a relationship with a co-worker (Brendan Sheehan).
However, it isn’t long till writer-director Garret Walsh pulls the first of a few rugs out from under the viewer. Without entering spoiler territory, any original audience judgement of the three main characters is proven to be false – something evident when their paths collide.
Walsh’s direction enhances the atmosphere of the piece. The washed-out colour palette is starkly beautiful while also establishing a sense of gothicism. Meanwhile, the choice not to include any dialogue (the conversations between Emme and Sheehan’s characters are muted) is a brave one, stripping away any fat or filler to leave the film feeling tighter and more compact.
Moody and eerie, The Observer Effect is an effective chiller. If one came across it on horror streaming platform Shudder on a dark Halloween night, it would put them right in the festive spirit.